Anticipating practice

Posted by Darren Urban on August 4, 2011 – 12:13 pm

It looks like the CBA will be done in time for the Cards to have their full team practice today. Remember, an astounding 24 guys have been forced to sit at this point. Coach Ken Whisenhunt did say he would be willing to move practice a little later if the ratification was slow to happen, just to get practice in, but I’m not sure that will be necessary.

UPDATE: Player rep Jay Feely just tweeted out the Cards approved the CBA. Waiting for the rest of the league, but “practice will happen.”

Whisenhunt also said QB Kevin Kolb will definitely play in the preseason opener in Oakland despite short practice time. Today, Whiz said it was a “good question” what he’d be looking for from Kolb, but he stressed he’d be realistic with the whole team.

“I know at times it’s going to be ugly,” Whisenhunt said. “But I know at times guys will make plays.”

— Whiz said he wasn’t sure how much Patrick Peterson would be involved in the return game, but it sounds like he will get in there some. “He’s a natural,” Whisenhunt said.

— The first unit will get extra reps once they practice. It’s necessary given the way things have gone, and it will take reps away from some of the young guys trying to make an impression.

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Waiting on CBA, and other notes

Posted by Darren Urban on August 3, 2011 – 12:44 pm

Everyone has been waiting for Thursday, because practice  begins for all the players who just signed contracts.


The Thursday deadline was based on the idea the new collective bargaining agreement would be ratified. It has not been yet.

“Everybody wants to get out there and everyone is chomping at the bit,” said kicker Jay Feely, the Cardinals’ union representative. “No one wants to sit on the sidelines. But they can’t get out there until it is done. We’ve been shooting for tomorrow all along and as of (Tuesday) I was still being told it would be tomorrow hopefully. But we don’t have anything definitive yet.”

There were issues left that couldn’t be bargained until the union recertified, like drug policies, benefits and player conduct policies. That is what is still being dealt with. One thing is for certain — no one wants to wait.

— Rookie CB Patrick Peterson is changing his jersey number to 21, with safety Hamza Abdullah switching from 21 to 23. A couple other holdovers are also switching, with WR Max Komar going from 18 to 10 and Stephen Williams from 14 to 18.

— Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he doesn’t questions the toughness of RB Beanie Wells. But when it came to dealing with the knee injury last season and the aftereffects, “quite frankly, he didn’t handle it as well as he could have.”

— I know a lot of people keep asking about the backup nose tackle behind Dan Williams. Having looked at new defensive lineman Nick Eason, he definitely could fill in at the spot if needed. He’s a wide-body. And again, rookie David Carter is taking snaps there.

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Official free agent list from the league

Posted by Darren Urban on July 25, 2011 – 3:44 pm

And the news just keeps flowing …

The NFL released it’s official list of free agents and their proper designations. For the Cards, three players are tendered restricted free agents. WR Early Doucet would produce a third-round pick as compensation if he were to be signed away. Running back Tim Hightower and tackle Brandon Keith would fetch second-round picks if they were signed away. Teams can have them sign offer sheets and the Cards will have a chance to match.

Players that will be unrestricted, either because of accrued seasons or because the Cards didn’t tender them offers, are as follows:

  • S Hamza Abdullah
  • CB Michael Adams
  • T D’Anthony Batiste
  • DT Alan Branch
  • FB Nehemiah Broughton
  • WR Steve Breaston
  • C Ben Claxton
  • DT Keilen Dykes
  • P Ben Graham
  • G Deuce Lutui
  • DE Kenny Iwebema
  • FB Reagan Maui’a
  • CB Trumaine McBride
  • TE Ben Patrick
  • NT Bryan Robinson
  • C Lyle Sendlein
  • TE Stephen Spach
  • S Matt Ware
  • NT Gabe Watson

There are a lot of free agents out there. The release, with the names listed single-spaced per team, is almost nine pages long for the unrestricted guys.

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NFL timeline released

Posted by Darren Urban on July 25, 2011 – 1:34 pm

Here is the first part of the NFL timeline that was just sent out from the league office (all times are Eastern, making them three hours earlier for Arizona). As of now, the Cardinals have not yet put out their own timeline for training camp, and reporting to “camp” on the league timeline doesn’t necessarily mean camp in Flagstaff. It may just be reporting to the Tempe facility. That’s all to be announced:

July 25                        NFL will publish the 2011 Free Agency List, which will become effective July 29, 2011 at 6 p.m., New York time.

July 26                        At 10 a.m., New York time, Club facilities open. Players may report for physicals and voluntary strength and conditioning.

At 10 a.m., New York time, Trading begins for 2011 League Year.

Rosters expanded to ninety (90) man limit.

At 10 a.m., New York time, Clubs may negotiate with and SIGN their own Drafted Rookies and any Undrafted Rookie. Clubs may have such players report to the Club’s facilities for physical examinations prior to signing.

All 2011 Contracts signed on or after July 26 shall be binding upon the player and the Club when signed, but shall not become effective unless a CBA is ratified by the NFLPA (August 4)

At 10 a.m., New York time, Clubs may NEGOTIATE with, but not sign, or extend Offer Sheets to, their own UFAs, RFAs, Exclusive Rights Players and Franchise Players and other Clubs’ UFAs, RFAs, non-exclusive Franchise Players and free agents.

July 26-27                   A Club may require a player to report for a mandatory physical examination in order for the player to qualify for any bonus in a preexisting contract if the “measuring date” for such a bonus has been changed pursuant to CBA Article 11 (Transition Rules for the 2011 League Year).

July 27                        Camp opens for ten Clubs whose first preseason game is on August 11 (ARZ, BLT, DAL, DEN, JAX, NE, OAK, PHI, SD, SEA)

July 28                        Camp opens for ten Clubs whose first preseason game is on August 12


At 4:01 p.m., New York time, waivers begin for the 2011 League Year

July 29                        Camp opens for ten Clubs whose first preseason game is on August 13 (BUF, CAR, CHI, CLV, GB, IND, MIN, NYG, STL, TEN)

At 6:00 p.m., New York time, Clubs may SIGN, or extend Offer Sheets to, all eligible players, in addition to Drafted and Undrafted Rookies.  Clubs may have such players report to the Club’s facilities for physical examinations prior to signing.  Eligible players may visit or try out at any Club facility.

Veteran players who sign Player Contracts on or after 6:00 p.m., New York time, on July 29 shall be required to report to, and remain with, their Clubs, except that, prior to the start of the 2011 League Year on August 4, such players may not participate in on-field activities, workouts, weight training or other physical activities, but shall be required to attend meetings, classroom instruction and any other non-physical activities scheduled during the Club’s preseason training camp.

The restrictions set forth above shall not apply to Drafted or Undrafted Rookies who are under contract, regardless of the date upon which such players signed their Player Contracts. If any such player is injured as the result of participating in training camp activities, the terms of the player’s contract shall cover such injury whether or not the CBA is ratified.

If a preexisting contract contains a “measuring date” related to Salary and/or the exercise or non-exercise of any Club option, which measuring date: (A) was expressed as a calendar date that fell between March 11, 2011 and July 25, 2011 or (B) was expressed solely as being related to a certain number of days from the start of the 2011 League Year, such measuring date shall be deemed amended to be 4:00 p.m., New York time on July 29, 2011, provided the player has undergone any physical examination required by the Club on July 26 or 27.  If the player fails or refuses to undergo such physical, as directed by the Club, the measuring date shall be extended by one day for each day the player fails to report for the physical.

July 31                        Camp opens for two Clubs whose first preseason game is on August 15 (NYJ, HST)

August 4                      First day of 2011 League Year at 4:01 p.m., New York time, assuming NFLPA has ratified the CBA

Top 51 begins at 4:01 p.m., New York time

All Clubs must be within the Salary Cap at 4:01 p.m., New York time

All 2011 contracts signed on or after July 26 become effective at 4:01 p.m., New York time, assuming NFLPA has ratified the CBA

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A hint of parallel history

Posted by Darren Urban on July 22, 2011 – 4:20 pm

Now that training camp (hopefully) should come soon and the days of the Revisionist History series have come to and end, this thought I had last night felt like the perfect bridge: How Thursday’s events with the is-it-or-isn’t-it end to the labor talks reminded me so much of the first press conference drama I encountered on this beat, back in 2000, with Simeon Rice.

Everyone who follows this sport now knows how Thursday played out. The owners said they were OK with the deal, and said so in a press conference. The players were upset because they had yet to sign off on the deal, and felt blindsided. So I take you back (briefly this time, compared to the other RH posts) to Rice. Long story short, Rice had been franchised by the Cards after the 1999 season. He wasn’t happy. The one-year tender was for $4.25 million, and the Cards didn’t want to talk extension until Rice signed the tender. Rice, as became clear later, really didn’t want to play in Arizona any more.

Finally, after missing the first game of the season, Rice agreed to come in and sign the tender. But before he signed anything, then-general manager Bob Ferguson took Rice out on the balcony overlooking the rest of the team practicing and basically told Rice what he felt — along the lines that Rice had to show he was worth the money and become a leader, and prove himself to some people in the building. Rice didn’t like that. So, even though a press conference had already been called and the media — swarming the big story at the time — waiting, Rice left the team’s complex.

Ferguson ended up giving a press conference himself. In a twist of what happened this week, the emotion resided not with the one not at the presser but the one giving the presser. Ferguson got angry and bellowed many things (including, for those of you following the team for a long time, the classic “If you’ve got a problem, don’t go talk to Mike Jurecki, come talk to me!” following by a pounding of the table in front of him.)

The story had a happy ending (at least in the short term). Rice returned to the complex the next day and signed his tender. And likewise, at some point, the NFL and players will come together. It won’t be the next day, but it still will be surprising if it isn’t soon.

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So close to the end

Posted by Darren Urban on July 21, 2011 – 4:48 pm

The NFL owners officially approved the new labor agreement this afternoon. The lockout is close to over, although it’s not — the players still have to approve the deal, and everything remains hinged on the players agreeing to the deal and then re-certify as a union (and players, apparently, aren’t calling it a slam dunk.)

But this is where we are right now, the possibility players could come back to the facility as soon as Saturday, and the new league year (and free agency) starting Wednesday. The NFL’s full press release is here, including all the dates, but below are the key ones coming up (and no, the Cardinals have not yet released when their training camp dates will be as of yet):

July 23                     Voluntary training, conditioning and classroom instruction permitted until first day of clubs’ preseason training camps.

July 23                     Pre-2011 League Year Period commences. 2011 Free Agency List to be issued  and will become effective on the first day of the 2011 League Year (July 27). Clubs/players may begin to renegotiate contracts. Clubs may begin to sign Drafted Rookies and their own UFAs, RFAs, Exclusive Rights Players and Franchise Players.

July 23                     Waivers begin for the 2011 League Year.

July 23                     Starting at 2:00 PM ET, clubs may negotiate with, but not sign, Undrafted Rookie Free Agents, free agents, and other clubs’ UFAs, RFAs, and  Franchise Players.

July 24                     Starting at 2:00 PM ET, clubs may begin to sign undrafted rookie free agents.

July 27                     2011 League Year commences at 2:00 PM ET, provided NFLPA has ratified CBA. Free Agency Signing Period begins. Clubs may sign free agents and other clubs’ Unrestricted Free Agents. Clubs may sign Offer Sheets. Trading period begins. All Clubs must be under the Salary Cap. Top 51 rule applies.

July 27                     Expand rosters to 90-man limit.

July 27                     Training Camps open for all clubs, provided NFLPA has ratified CBA. Day One activities limited to physicals, meetings, and conditioning. No pads permitted on Day Two or Day Three.

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Feely cautious on status of labor talks

Posted by Darren Urban on July 13, 2011 – 11:15 am

Cardinals kicker Jay Feely, who also serves as the team’s player representative for the players’ association, appeared on ESPN’s SportsCenter today to talk about the current labor situation. The highlights? He doesn’t think any games will be missed. But “I do not think (a resolution) is as close as some people make it out to be.”

Feely’s full feelings:

“I was just on a conference call,” he said. “Obviously, I cannot talk about the details of it, but we are absolutely working hard. I do not think it is as close as some people make it out to be. There are still some issues we have to resolve. I do not think we are going to miss games. I am hopeful that we will not miss games. But there are definitely some steps that need to be taken. Rational thought needs to be the dominant force driving these negotiations.

“If you allow emotion to get into it, if one side tries to strong arm another, then it is not going to get accomplished. All that hurts in the end is not only the fans, but 150,000 jobs that are tied directly to the in-stadium experiences, as well as all of the restaurants and hotels that depend on that revenue to make mortgage payments and survive and sustain themselves. It is incumbent on both sides to keep rational thought at the forefront and find a way to get a deal done.”

Asked why he doesn’t think talks are as close as being reported, Feely said “I have optimism, but I am also realistic. I know there are issues that need to be accomplished. It is not that those issues cannot be overcome, but it is not inevitable, either.”

Feely also touched upon the rookie wage scale that has gotten so much attention of late.

“Our perspective is that if we are going to give back money, which we are on the rookies, then from the owners’ side they need to be willing to do four-year maximum contracts,” he said. “In my career, I have discovered that you know for sure by the first or second year a guy who is a rookie that is going to be in your plans going forward. When you look at the difference between four and five years, it may not look like a lot, but to the players it is. Four-year maximum contracts are something that we are really not willing to negotiate on.”

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While we wait …

Posted by Darren Urban on July 5, 2011 – 9:48 am

The Fourth of July has passed and that time when the lockout is creeping up on the season is coming fast. Talks are ongoing, and the hope still is that training camps won’t be delayed. Like everyone else, I am sitting back, waiting and hoping. In the meantime …

— Former NFL coach Herman Edwards was on ESPN’s SportsCenter this morning talking about his top five players to watch this season. At five was Packers LB Clay Matthews. Four was Bucs QB Josh Freeman, three was Rams QB Sam Bradford and two was Cowboys wideout Dez Bryant. And his top guy to keep an eye on? Cardinals rookie cornerback Patrick Peterson. Edwards has long been a fan of Peterson. Here’s hoping Edwards is right. Funny thing, by this time we’ve usually written and talked a ton about the first-round draft pick but because of the circumstances, he remains a relative mystery for this level. Will he jump in? Is he going to take longer to assimilate to the pro game because of no offseason (another reason it seems crazy for the Cards to deal DRC)?

— Speaking of the DRC “trade” — or more specifically, Eagles QB Kevin Kolb, some interesting stuff floating out there right now in this speculation bonanza we have. There is little question the Eagles think they can get a ransom for him right now, but who knows what that means? A Seattle radio station floated last week that the Seahawks would be willing to give up a first- and third-round pick for Kolb. That would change the dynamic of the situation, certainly.

As for Kolb’s play, Adam Caplan and Greg Cosell did an in-depth breakdown of Kolb’s five starts. It’s good stuff for anyone wanting to know more about this potential QB.

— Coach Ken Whisenhunt will be back in the U.S. soon after his trip overseas to visit military troops, a journey that took him to Kuwait and over to Iraq and eventually Baghdad and allowed him to spend Fourth of July with men and women defending the very nature of the holiday. Whiz is also scheduled to return to the American Century Championship according to the tourney. That’s the celebrity golf tournament held every year at Lake Tahoe (This year, it’s July 12-17). Cardinals linebacker Joey Porter is also on the list to play this year.

Then again, you never know what could be happening football-wise. I don’t know what a new labor agreement would immediately mean for the coaches. Hope we get to find out soon.

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The unknown of free agency

Posted by Darren Urban on May 10, 2011 – 9:25 am

Given the current labor situation, free agency has been one big question mark. And it’s not just the “when” but the “how.” That was crystallized yesterday (sorry, I was out covering the charity golf tournament and couldn’t get to writing about it then) when the NFL put out a statement saying the league is looking into “a wide range” of rules for everything once the league year does start, including what players would hit the open market.

“Our goal has at all times been the same — to operate under a negotiated set of procedures that are agreed to by the clubs and the NFLPA,” was the released statement from league spokesman Greg Aiello. “The current litigation has created a significant amount of uncertainty, and we are therefore considering a wide range of alternatives depending on developments.”

That’s why it’s impossible, other than in general terms, to talk much about who the Cards will target. I know people want to know some names — or at least, guesstimate on them — but you can’t. Because you don’t know — and can’t know — who will be available.

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For now, still waiting

Posted by Darren Urban on April 26, 2011 – 7:07 am

I know a lot of people want to know what is going on after yesterday’s court ruling. As of now, everything seems to remain in limbo. There will be a handful of players showing up to team facilities across the league, but it’s not like, for instance, John Lott is going to be putting everyone through the paces suddenly. Every report I have read says players aren’t going to be able to work out, not until more of the legal path is traveled and further sorted.

The same goes for offseason moves. As of now, the new league year has yet to start, so there are still no trades/signings/etc. As I have said before, something had to happen in the legal arena for this process to move forward, and that’s what Monday was. So now we move forward, although it’s impossible to know what the timetable is or how quickly the labor issue will be resolved. Regardless, it is moving forward, which is a good thing.

UPDATE: As I said, we wait.

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